In the fifth game of their last series, on Saturday, Sept. 23, the Isotopes play the Oklahoma City Dodgers. The ‘topes go into the series ranking third in the Pacific Coast League East, and play well, looking to close out the second half of the season on a high note. The game also is the second night of the Isotopes Fan Appreciation weekend, giving out free jerseys and a fireworks show to end the night.
The Isotopes shut down the first inning for the Dodgers with a failed challenge and follow up with a clean double out. The Isotopes start off their first inning a little slow, but Aaron Schunk hits a left side ball, with double loaded bases. This sends Coco Montes home for the first run of the game. The Isotopes end the first inning 1-0.
The second inning sees nothing for either team. While the Isotopes have a moment of completely loaded bases, the Dodgers are able to strike the boys in purple out, closing out with an unchanged score. During the third, Dodgers’ Ryan Ward sends a home run into left field, which secures three runs for his team. The Isotopes aren’t able to respond, ending the third with the Dodgers in the lead, 3-1.
The Isotopes quickly shoot down the Dodgers’ momentum in the top of the fourth with three outs, but aren’t able to come up with any runs of their own, although they continued to hit consistent balls. While none are home runs, they are not fly balls, something manager Pedro Lopez said he prefers.
“We played well in the second half of the season, a big part of that is biting down, getting the players used to the new skills, adjusting to circumstances, and having no excuses - just going out and playing baseball - and having fun with it,” Lopez said.
An unchanging fifth inning, the Isotopes swap some roles and added a new player on defense at the top of the sixth. This swap works well for the Isotopes, and the Dodgers’ score remains the same. Isotopes’ Hunter Stovall sends two of his teammates home, securing two more runs to tie up the score at 3-3.
This weekend’s games are the last for the Isotopes’ 2023 season and it came with Fan Appreciation days, Friday through Sunday. Free jerseys are given out to the first few thousand fans and the park is lit up by the fireworks show. After the season, general manager John Traub said he was happy to give back to the fans.
“We lead in the league this season for the largest average attendance, the second time in history since 2003, with almost 7,000 people per game.” Traub said. “With 75 home games, every (game) is fan appreciation day, but this weekend is part of tradition to baseball - and it does make a difference to our players.”
In the seventh inning, the Dodgers pick up another run. However, Isotopes Kyle Datres hits a hard ball along the right side line, sending Schunk home and lands himself on third base - running so hard he loses his helmet. Then came both Julio Carreras and Jamerson Hannah, who both send hard balls up center field, and secure a run for the Isotopes. Ending the seventh with the boys in purple in the lead; Isotopes 6, Dodgers 4.
In the eighth inning, both teams stay the same with their standing scores, and the ninth is ended early by the Isotopes’ Tommy Doyle, who catches the final out. This game is a second win in a row for the Isotopes, who have been on a comeback from the first three games, which the Dodgers took.
“It’s been a great year, a great second half, and we have high hopes for next year,” Traub said.
Sunday, Sept. 24 will be the final game of the season for the boys in Albuquerque, and the 2024 MLB season starts next March.
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BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BillyJackDL
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL